From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

You go for your morning or afternoon coffee, and before you know it, you've bought the large jelly-filled donut, the extra-large chocolate chip muffin or a chocolate bar to go with. What just happened?

Workplaces are notorious for food temptations that we could do without. We often grab breakfast on the run or afternoon snacks because we need a boost to get us through the afternoon or we're feeling stressed by project deadlines. Many of these quick food solutions are filled with empty calories that provide little nutritional value. Foods with empty calories typically tend to fill us up in the short term while adding pounds and leaving us craving more.

So how do you keep your large chocolate-chip muffin (approximately 350 calories) from turning you into a muffin top?

Start taking control of your breakfasts and snacks. Eat a breakfast that includes at least three items from the four food groups in Canada's Food Guide. Try cereal, milk and a banana or a soft-boiled egg, whole-wheat toast and an orange. Bringing nuts, fresh fruit, yogurt or whole-wheat crackers and cheese can help you avoid the temptations of the tea cart or the food court mid-morning or in the afternoon.

To get your mind off of food altogether you may want to try to be active instead. See the chart below for fast, easy activities you can do at work. All you have to do is 10 minutes at a time.

Walking briskly: try walking down the corridor, around the outside of your building, in a local shopping mall or in the neighbourhood near your workplace.

Bonus calorie burn: 47 calories/per 10 minutes

Stair climbing: Find flights of stairs in your office building, factory, in the local mall or subway entrances and use them!

Bonus calorie burn: 70 calories/10 minutes

Circuit training: In your office, cubicle, cafeteria or other free space at work, do a series of activities that you feel comfortable doing such as running in place, jumping jacks, or pretending you're punching a bag.

Bonus calorie burn: 78 calories/10 minutes

Play catch: Grab a co-worker, a ball and go outside or in an empty hall and throw the ball around.

Bonus calorie burn: 28 calories/10 minutes

Stretches at your desk: If you really can't get away to move around, try to get a little activity in by doing some simple stretches.

Bonus calorie burn: 30 calories/10 minutes

Before starting any new activity program, be sure to talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional.

This physical activity column was written by a Certified Personal Trainer Professional and Fitness Instructor and reviewed by a specialist in kinesiology.

Learn how the size of your waist is a risk factor for heart disease.

Posted: October 2010

Heart and Stroke Foundation


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